The 3-Stage PMP Prep Approach – by Abubaker Muzzamil, PMP

3-stage PMP prep approach Abubaker, PMPAbubaker Muzzamil is a Civil engineer working in Dubai. He’s certified in PMP and PMI-RMP.

He also works with the PMI UAE chapter in a part-time capacity.

In this post Abubaker shares what got him hooked to PMP dream, and how he achieved it.

An interesting thing I noted is that Abubaker actually ramped down the daily study time as the exam approached!

Also, in order to avoid the clock pressure, he took full-length tests without a time limit.

He said one of his approaches was a mistake, and he’d advise people to avoid the mistake.

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What made you take up PMP certification?

PMP AbubakerI got initiated on the PMP journey by a family member who has been working in the project management community for almost 20 years. He gave me a broad idea about the certificate and the value it brings to one’s career.

After a lot of research and getting background knowledge, I realized that PMP would help me advance my career. As an engineer, it is a big addition to my technical experience, because we’re always surrounded by project environments.

Which study books did you use?

I spent a good part of 5 months preparing for the exam.

When I began researching for exam resources, I came across Rita Mulcahy’s offer. I used resources developed by her company, RMC – including the PMP exam prep book and a Fast track simulator.

Apart from these, I also referred to the Head First book.

I used about 80% of Rita Mulcahy’s resources and 20% of the rest of them.

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How did you approach the preparation?

My study journey was easy to plan, but hard when it comes to executing it. 🙂

  • Stage 1: Study using PMBOK guide
  • Stage 2: Study using Rita’s book
  • Stage 3: Take practice questions

I studied the PMBOK guide first, which I’m not sure was a good idea. Because stage 2 (Rita’s resources) is where I gained most of the knowledge required for the exam.

So, if you find PMBOK hard to follow, don’t start your preparation with it!

My approach was to take up each Knowledge Area and study carefully over 3 days.

I did that for all Knowledge Areas except Procurment Managment, which took me a week to wrap my head around.

At the end of each Knowledge Area I took all the sample questions for that KA.

Stage 3 is when I started solving questions. By using the Fast track simulator I took one mock exam for each Knowledge Area separately – over 800 questions for all 10 Knowledge Areas.

Then I began doing PMP exam simulations without the 4 hours time limit because thinking about the time factor was stressful for me.

I did another 4 full-length mock exams.

I referred to the Head First book studying it for extra knowledge.

By this time I was just 3 weeks away from my exam, so I reviewed the PMBOK guide one again while solving the mock questions.

That’s quite exhaustive. What exactly did you do in the week before the exam?

One week prior to the exam, I reviewed the PMBOK and solved questions.

But I had limited time in hand as I was preparing for my flight, and stay arrangements around the test center where I had scheduled the exam.

Overall, I began with about 6 hrs of study per day, and in the last month, I spent around 3 hrs a day.

So, you actually ramped down study efforts as the exam approached! How was the exam experience?

I visited the PearsonVUE exam center 2 days before the exam. They confirmed my registration and asked for my passport as a verification document.

They also gave me permission to enter the exam hall and soak in the environment. This was really helpful in lifting my spirit, and lessening the stress.

In the hindsight, this was an important step, as it reduced anxiety on the day of the exam.

That’s a unique approach! Any advice for PMP students?

My only advice while taking the exam is not to look at what time is left. I don’t think it would help in any way.

Read the questions carefully, if you’re certain about an answer choose it and move forward. If you are between 50-90% sure then mark it for review.

If you are not sure about the answer at all, then read the question again and look for key phrases like:

  • “what will you do FIRST?” or
  • “What is NOT included” or
  • “All the followings are.. EXCEPT?”

They will help understand what exactly to look for in the options.

Never skip reading the remaining options once you feel one of the options is the answer. PMI looks for the BEST answer, so there could be a better one in the remaining options.

Believe that you can do it. This will help you get past the obstacles.

Go do it!

Abubaker Muzzamil, PMP


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